AUGUST 16, 2018, BOSTON – Here are a few trivia questions for you – see how you do with them:
“Mel Brooks’s Star Wars parody, ‘Spaceballs,’ replaces ‘Force’ in the ‘May the Force be with you’ with what very Jewish name?”
“Collectively, what were comedians Moses Horowitz, Louis Feinberg, and Jerome Horwitz better known as?”
“The last time someone earned an Oscar for playing a real-life Jew was 2009, when Sean Penn won for portraying whom?”
The answers are Schwartz, the Three Stooges, and Harvey Milk. If you knew the answers to all of these questions without peeking, you may have had a shot at winning The Big Quiz Thing’s Ultimate Trivia Experience, a July 31 fundraiser for the Boston Jewish Film Festival that tested attendees’ knowledge of Jews in the entertainment industry.
According to Jaymie Saks, the film festival’s executive director, the event is part of a few fund-raisers that the organization has held to prepare for its 30th anniversary this November.
“We were looking for some different ways to celebrate our 30th anniversary … we wanted to do something different, maybe a little fun,” said Saks as the “Star Wars” theme boomed behind her. “We’ve had this idea for a long, long time, so it was a good fit.”
The idea had been percolating for a while because the mother of host and The Big Quiz Thing founder, Noah Tarnow, once sat on the film festival board. Tarnow, dressed that night in a shimmering, oversized black and purple sports coat, is a full-time trivia host who aims to create a heightened version of typical contests.
“The idea is to do a bar trivia night, but more deluxe,” said Tarnow, who founded The Big Quiz Thing in 2002, and now hosts 150 events a year. “As part of that, we do multimedia presentations … we try to make it more like a trivia game experience.”
Tarnow opened the Boston event by crying, “Let’s hear it for useless knowledge!” Throughout the two floors of Hopsters Brewing Company, the bar in the Boston Seaport, large television screens displayed the questions, some of which were completely visual. Scenes from movies starring and/or directed by Jews played, and teams needed to fill in the last line of dialogue. Teams were also asked to identify Jews in show business based only on a series of images that make up the sounds of their names.
Teams of people, who assigned themselves names like “the Mavens,” “Clueless,” and “YentaSchmenta,” were hard at work, whispering furtively across the table after each question was asked. Sometimes, when Tarnow asked a particularly obvious question, murmurs of the answer could be heard throughout the room, followed by scolding shushes. After each question, representatives plugged their answers into an app, and Tarnow announced the answers after the end of rounds. With each answer reveal, bursts of cheering and high-fives erupted.
Finally, after two rounds of 10 questions and a lightning round, the scores were tallied, and it was time to pick a winner. The three groups with the highest scores so far, the Vilna Fools, the Rents and Friends, and Wormtown, each chose one representative to earn every member of their team a shiny medal. Tarnow would ask three questions, and would call on the first person who hit the buzzer. The first to get two correct answers would win.
“Five years, Jewish actor Idina Menzel served as the voice for what very popular Halloween costume character?”
The answer is Queen Elsa, the main character in the Disney movie “Frozen.” The point went to Adam Chale from the Vilna Fools. If Chale, a teacher from Stoughton, got the next question right, he would win the game for his team.
“On the Internet Movie Database, what 1984 movie, directed by Jewish actor/filmmaker Rob Reiner, is the only entry that has a rating on a scale of 1 to 11?” asked Tarnow (all others are 1 to 10).
Chale buzzed in. “This is Spinal Tap.” He was right, and the words “glorious victory” flashed across the TV screen behind him. The Vilna Fools were thrilled. “I had a good team behind me,” Chale said. As their name suggests, many on the team represented the venerable Vilna Shul in Boston.
“We were in the corner and we couldn’t see the screen,” said Eugene Schultz of Wakefield, who’s the social media manager for the Vilna Shul. “And so they said, ‘Oh, you know, you can move,’ and I said ‘meh, Jews overcome a lot. It’s no 40 years in the desert.’”